The European Union has called for Venezuelan authorities to respect the “civil rights, freedom and safety” of parliamentary chief Juan Guaido, but stopped short of following Washington and recognising him as interim president.
“On 23 January, the people of Venezuela have massively called for democracy and the possibility to freely determine their own destiny. These voices cannot be ignored,” the EU said in statement.
“The Venezuelan people have the right to peacefully demonstrate, to freely choose its leaders and decide its future,” the statement added.
Mr Guaido has sworn himself in as the right head of state with the support of nations around the region, leaving President Nicolas Maduro increasingly isolated.
US President Donald Trump formally recognised Mr Guaido shortly after his announcement and praised his plan to hold elections.
The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela. https://t.co/WItWPiG9jK
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2019
A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation into reported casualties that had occurred during the unrest in Venezuela and urged all parties in the divided country to enter peaceful dialogue.
“The Secretary-General underlines the urgent need for all relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible political dialogue to address the protracted crisis in the country,” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Eight people have died in clashes with police this week, according to officials in the country.
Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets across Venezuela to demand that Mr Maduro step aside.
Russia has said Mr Maduro is the legitimate president of Venezuela and outside attempts to usurp power flouted international law.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that outside interference in the country was “unacceptable” and that statements by US officials suggesting the possibility of military intervention there were very dangerous.
Mr Guaido has has promised free and fair elections, a transition government to revive the hyperinflation-riddled economy and an amnesty for military officers if they help push Mr Maduro from power.
He faces the daunting task of pushing forward the transition plan without control over crucial state institutions and armed forces that have disavowed him.
Military commanders, including Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino, have so far promised to stick with Mr Maduro.
With the country’s economy falling apart and annual inflation approaching two million per cent, Mr Maduro has relied extensively on the military to maintain power.
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